I spent yesterday with an enthusiastic yet mired board and director of a small heritage organization. After doing a quick round of strengths/weaknesses about the organization, it became clear that many (most) of the weaknesses stem from one, big absent strength -- a clear vision and mission. Equally telling, no one noted that anything even approaching a long-range or strategic plan was a strength (they have one, too!).
Here's a short list of this organization's symptoms (aka weaknesses): can't seem to focus; can't seem to follow through on what plans there are; poor internal communication; committees don't function well or at all; uneven or weak leadership, etc. You get the picture. A list like that can undo the good intentions of any board member or director.
So, what to do? Well, you can certainly start to address the symptoms. But they are symptoms after all -- the underlying problem is still there. So, I encouraged the group to take a two-pronged attack: 1) work on strengthening some of the weaknesses a little at a time and 2) make time for some heartfelt discussions about vision and mission. Let those discussions then become the platform for a comprehensive planning process that looks at the entire organization, not just one or two pieces of it.
And break work into small, lucid tasks.
It's a start. And it works.
Photo: il puzzle della vita
by NaNa [supergirl] flickr